President’s Corner: Shalom Oakland
By faithnetwork | February 1st,2017
As we enter a tumultuous new year, shalom (a Hebrew word encompassing peace, prosperity, health, wholeness) is a renewed yearning of my hopes and prayers.
Back in the early 1980s, Jeremiah 29:7 became embedded in my spirit:
“Seek the shalom of the city where I have sent you, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its shalom you will find your shalom…”.
Jeremiah directed this admonition from God to Jewish captives in Babylon. Imagine being one of God’s people hearing their prophet calling on them to seek the shalom of their captors! In contrast, false prophets were offering false comfort, spreading messages like, “God will soon liberate us and we will return home to Jerusalem.” Jeremiah’s message was resolutely discomforting. The Jews would remain enslaved in a foreign land for 70 years. God’s will was for the Israelite sojourners to pray for the shalom of Babylon, plant vineyards, build houses and bear children.
I’m reminded of a memorable sermon preached by Mark Labberton, then Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, and currently President of Fuller Theological Seminary. The title of Mark’s message was “Exodus or Exile?” In the days of Moses the Israelites experienced a dramatic Exodus when they were delivered from enslavement in Egypt. Many centuries later they we
re forced into Exile to live as strangers in a foreign land. Exodus or Exile? We might prefer the former, but we may be called to endure the latter – and to bloom where we’re planted.
The call to seek the shalom of the city to which we’ve been sent is as timely as ever. May we, disciples of the Prince of Peace, through our prayers and actions, resound with grace notes of love, joy, justice and peace in our communities throughout this new year.
For the children,